Honey Bees

Honey Bees

​There are special requirements for trade and import of live bees:

For a trade in bees within the European Union, the general conditions that apply to 'other' live animals apply. These conditions are laid down in Council Directive 92/65/EC. Among them is a requirement that a certificate must accompany consignments of bees when traded between EU Member States.

The same conditions must be met when importing live bees to the European Union. In addition, specific animal health conditions and accompanying health certificates for the import of bees are described in Commission Regulation (EC) No 206/2010.

The imports of bees are restricted in order to prevent the introduction of two exotic pests, which are absent from the EU, the small hive beetle (Aethina tumida) and the Tropilaelaps mite (Tropilaelaps spp.). These two pests have caused great damage to bee populations in affected third countries and it is important to keep them out of the EU. Such requirements have been in force since 2003​.

In particular the rules allow introduction of only cages of queen bees (Apis mellifera and Bombus spp.), each containing one single queen bee with a maximum of 20 accompanying attendants; or containers of bumble bees (Bombus spp.), each containing a colony of a maximum of 200 adult bumble bees can be imported.

As a specific measure, some conditions are put on consignments after they enter EU at the designated place of final destination:

  • the hives are to be placed under the control of the competent authority
  • the cages, attendants, and other material that accompanied the queen bees must be sent to a laboratory designated by the competent authority for examination and they are destroyed afterwards.

All beekeepers who suspect their colonies are infested with these pests have to inform immediately our Department.

Veterinary medicines and residues

The use of veterinary medicinal products in the bee sector has to comply with the European rules on veterinary medicinal products. The Commission takes into account the limited availability of veterinary medicines for bees during the review of the EU veterinary medicinal products legislation.

Residues of veterinary medicines

For the purposes of European legislation honey is defined in Council Directive 2001/110/EC.

In the European Union, veterinary medicinal products intended for use in food producing animals have to be scientifically evaluated according to human food safety requirements (Regulation (EC) No 470/2009).

EU Maximum Residue Limits (MRLs) in honey are listed in Regulation (EU) No 37/2010 for residues of pharmacologically active substances in honey. For some substances (e.g. amitraz and coumaphos) an MRL has been established, whilst for other substances the evaluation demonstrated that no MRL was required to protect food safety (flumethrin, oxalic acid and tau fluvalinate). Products that have not been assessed as safe according to these requirements can neither be authorised nor used otherwise for food production animals.

Pesticide residues

Pesticide residues may be taken up by honey bees during the collection of nectar and/or pollen when plant protection products are used while the treated crops are flowering. EU MRLs for pesticide residues are set in the framework of Regulation (EC) No 396/2005.​